Looking back on wolf drama as zoo says it’s secure

As five wolves escaped from Colchester Zoo earlier this week, we thought we would explore our archives and look back at escape attempts from our very own Whipsnade Zoo, writes Richard Redman.
Dunstable Gazette from February 1965Dunstable Gazette from February 1965
Dunstable Gazette from February 1965

On February 12, 1965, a wolf escaped while it was being transferred between enclosures, triggering a 68-hour hunt for the animal.

Shortly after its escape, the beast was spotted by a member of the public who mistook it for an Alsatian and beckoned “Come here doggy!”.

As many as 40 armed policemen and zookeepers pursued the wolf, responding to various sightings in Dunstable, Heath and Reach and beyond.

On Monday, February 15, it was accidentally struck by a motorist and later shot in a field near Hitchin by William Lilley of Dunstable and Len Warren of Houghton Regis.

On September 29, 2007, two chimpanzees tunnelled out of their enclosure.

After attempts to recapture male Jonnie, 27, he was shot dead, while female Coco – who still lives at the zoo today – was safely returned.

Whipsnade Zoo have issued assurances that residents have nothing to fear with regards to a Beds repeat of the Colchester Zoo wolf drama.
A spokesman from the zoo said: “All of our exhibits at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are designed to be safe and secure with zookeepers carrying out thorough daily checks, and we can confirm that there have been no recent incidents of animal escapes.

>Pictured: An original copy of the Dunstable Gazette, dated February 19, 1965. tells the story of a 68-hour hunt for a wolf that escaped from Whipsnade Zoo. The animal was shot dead in a field near Hitchin.